Archive for the ‘Wonder’ category

W is for Wonder

June 14, 2017

W is for Wonder, one of our favorite novels, recommended by my granddaughter, 5 years ago, shortly after she came into our lives. Her third grade teacher started reading Wonder aloud in the last few days of school. Since Taylor was hooked, I thought it would be great if I read it too and that way we could talk about the book together, which has become a long-standing practice—but that’s another story.

I wanted to do something for the teacher who introduced Wonder to us and a tradition for sharing books, so I decided to create a literature unit for the novel.  As I created questions, prompts, and mini-projects, I prevailed on my granddaughter’s expertise as a kid to determine if all of this made sense to her.  It did! Taylor is in high school now and we still share books and she still is my number one expert on kids!

From there we created four products:

SALE 20% OFF June15-16 Wonder Unit Plan, Wonder Discussion & Activity Guide, Wonder Mini-Unit (English Only) and Wonder Mini-Unit (English & Spanish Activities)

 

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Spread a Little Kindness and Avoid Teacher Burnout

April 6, 2015

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According to Ben Johnson, author of 10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout, making someone’s day by extending a small kindness is another step to avoiding teacher burnout. His suggestions include calling a parent or guardian to share something good about a student; complement a struggling student on something he or she is doing well; or just show gratitude to a staff member with a note, hug, or even a small gift. Here are 11 more ways to spread kindness for you and your students:

  1. Set up an appreciation day for custodians, school secretaries, bus drivers, or administrators.  Ask your students to write a thank you statement.  For example, thank you Mrs. Smith for keeping our classroom clean; thank you Mr. Brown for getting us to and from school safely; thank you Miss Thomas for saying hello to us when we come to school, etc.  Place all the thank-you statements in a large envelope and deliver them.
  2. Bring treats in for the staff on a Monday morning.
  3. Buy a dozen roses from the grocery store and give 12 staff members each a rose.
  4. Send a note to someone on your staff that has shown you kindness or has helped you.
  5. Surprise your students with a fun activity.
  6. Explore the resources listed below and commit to doing some of the acts of kindness with your students.
  7. Smile at your students and your colleagues.
  8. Organize your professional books and materials and give a new teacher books or materials you no longer need, but still have professional value.
  9. Leave a generous tip the next time you dine out.
  10. Call someone who has been in your thoughts.
  11. Watch the movie, Pay It Forward.

Below are some excellent resources and ideas for you and your students to consider when choosing kind. Wonder is a great novel that deals, among other things, with the power of kindness. Consider it for a read-aloud for your students. Check out our unit and read-aloud guide on Teachers Pay Teachers.wonder book bites

Resources for Spreading Kindness

15 Random Acts of Kindness

The Great Kindness Challenge

Conspiracy of Kindness

134 Random Acts of Kindness

Acts of Kindness Student ActivitiesSurviving to Thriving TPT

50 Random Acts of Kindness

Avoid Teacher Burnout: Help a Colleague

March 30, 2015

Eight_o_clockTime is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.   Carl Sandburg

The response to help a colleague may very well be connected to time: There’s barely enough time for the things I have to do—there’s just no time to be collegial. The scarcity of time is often a systemic problem, however, some teachers seem to find that time because they know that the return is energizing. Ben Johnson’s fourth step in avoiding teacher burnout in his article, 10 Ways to Avoid Teacher Burnout, is to help another teacher. He shares some excellent ways to do just that by responding to a blog or starting your own blog; mentoring another teacher; or taking an active role in your professional organization. Here’s 7 more ways to help a colleague:

  1. Share a lesson, unit, or resources for a topic with teachers who teach the same grade level or content area.
  2. Organize a grade level meeting or content area meeting to plan an end of the semester/year activity and ask everyone to bring an activity or resource to the meeting to share.
  3. Share a journal article with a summary of the article and some practical applications attached to the article.
  4. Designate a bulletin board or bookshelf in the teachers’ lounge for teachers to share resources, activities, books, lessons, etc.
  5. Follow a blog (see suggestions under Resources).
  6. Join your professional organization and share the resources from your membership.
  7. Check in with a first-year teacher in your building.  The conversation will benefit both of you.

While demands on time don’t always allow for teachers to collaborate with colleagues, when you do collaborate, the effort and end result is always worth it. My partners in Surviving to Thriving LjL have collaborated together on many projects—books, curricular materials, presentations, and workshops. For example, we are currently working on a unit and discussion/activity guide for Animal Farm. Jennifer just finished the unit. Next, I go through the unit, editing, deleting, adding, and then sending it back to Jennifer. She makes her adjustments, then it goes to Linda, who formats it expertly and uploads it to Teachers Pay Teachers. When we wrote two books on classroom management (Thriving in the High School Classroom and From Surviving to Thriving: Mastering the Art of the Elementary Classroom), we sat at Linda’s dining room table and wrote as a team—that was an amazing process. Collaboration benefits all those involved in the collaboration process and often benefits students the most.

References

Johnson, Ben. (April 22, 2014).  10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout. Edutopia.

Blogs to Check Out

Teach Thought

Middle Web

Hack Learning

Grant Wiggins

From Surviving to Thriving

Thriving LjL

Surviving to Thriving TPT

Here’s a list of some of our collaborative work:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Son by Lois Lowry

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate

Avoid Teacher Burnout: 6 Ways to Take Care of Your Health

March 15, 2015

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To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise

we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. Buddha

 

How many of you made New Year’s resolutions connected to taking better care of your health? Eat healthier, exercise often, and sleep more! And, yet somehow those resolutions haven’t morphed into new habits. It may be that that we need to strengthen our willpower and it may not be as hard as we think. According to Dr. Kelly McGonigal, “Being mindful of the present moment improves a wide range of skills, including attention, stress management, impulse control, and yes, being self-aware of feelings and urges. Not only does it change how the brain functions, it physically impacts the structure of the brain to support self-control” (Migliore, 2015, p. 33). Being mindful is often associated with meditation and deep breathing exercises, which seem an easy way to increase our resolve, our willpower, to do those things that keep us healthy.

Teacher burnout is caused by many internal and external forces, one of those forces is physical health, which we have some control over. Taking care of your health is Step 2 in avoiding teacher burnout, as suggested in Ben Johnson’s article: 10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout.

Here are 6 suggestions to consider regarding taking care of your health:

  1. Meditate and practice deep breathing for 15 minutes a day.
  2. Do one thing to improve your diet: eat breakfast, drink more water, eliminate one unhealthy food, etc.
  3. Take a 20-minute walk daily.
  4. Take a 15 minute power nap (preferably not during class).
  5. Improve your bedtime ritual and commit to sleeping a healthy number of hours.
  6. Add a physical activity to your weekly schedule that you really enjoy: hiking, biking, dancing, aerobics, karate, yoga, bowling, tennis, golf, walking the dog…(power reading doesn’t count).

One way to find the time to take care of your health is to have on hand some units you love teaching and students love learning. I always think you should save one of your best units for the end of the spring semester. If you are newer to teaching, you might not have that unit developed yet or if you have been teaching for a while, you might have already taught that unit. Give yourself a break and look at some of the wonderful curriculum materials available online. My colleagues and I work hard to create teacher materials that are easy for teachers to implement and engage students. Check out our store Surviving to Thriving LjL on Teachers Pay Teachers. Here’s a list of the novels for which we have developed curriculum materials. Now go take a nap or a walk!

The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenSurviving to Thriving TPT

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Son by Lois Lowry

References

Johnson, Ben. (April 22, 2014). 10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout. Edutopia.

Migliore, L. (Spring 2015). The science of strengthening willpower and summoning self-control. Brain World. Issue 3, Volume 6, pp. 30-32.

Resources

Set Up For Sleep

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linden-schaffer/set-up-for-sleep_b_5605957.html

Sleeping Tips: 7 Ways To Get To Bed Earlier Tonight

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/02/sleeping-tips-earlier-bedtime_n_3359469.html

Start Reading Aloud to Your Students Today!

March 3, 2015

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You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.  Dr. Seuss

March 4, 2015, is World Read Aloud Day and it’s a great day to start the habit of reading aloud to your students. Read a news article, the first chapter of a book, fiction or non-fiction, a poem, magazine article, whatever is at hand. Think about starting a lesson by reading a picture book related to your topic or the first paragraph of last night’s reading assignment. Reading aloud to students of all ages is powerful.

When I taught an American literature class to high school juniors, I realized that reading aloud poems, short stories, essays, and novels caught the attention of the students and kept their attention. It allowed me to stop and explain words, reread beautiful or intriguing passages, ask and answer questions, and check for understanding. And, I and the students were always on the same page.

Listed below are some resources to check that support reading aloud as well as tips for reading aloud. At first, it may be a little daunting to start reading aloud to older students, but once you start, your confidence builds, you don’t worry about stumbling over or mispronouncing a word, you start to use your voice differently for characters and/or for emphasis, and you begin to really enjoy reading aloud as much as your students enjoy hearing you read aloud.

So, in honor of Read-Aloud Day, read aloud to someone!

For those of you who are already reading aloud to your students, you may want to look at our Discussion and Activity Guides, designed for reading aloud, for Catching Fire, Son, The Fault in Our Stars, The Giver, and Wonder.

Teachers Pay Teachers:  Surviving to Thriving LjL

Resources–Reading Aloud

http://www.trelease-on-reading.com/

http://www.readwritethink.org/professional-development/strategy-guides/teacher-read-aloud-that-30799.html

https://www.teachervision.com/skill-builder/read-aloud/48715.html

Resources–Picture Books

http://theeducatorsroom.com/2013/08/picture-books-for-high-school-theyre-not-in-kindergarten-any-more/

https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/top-10-picture-books-for-the-secondary-classroom/

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Written by L. V. Neiman

 

Characters, Authors, Friends

September 11, 2013

Reading isn’t passive–I enter the story with the characters, breathe their air, feel their frustrations,
scream at them to stop when they’re
about to do something stupid, cry with
them, laugh with them.
Reading for me, is spending time with a friend.
A book is a friend.
You can never have too many.
Gary Paulsen

As I was reading yet another book by Victoria Huston, it struck me how much I enjoy her characters, her plots, and her writing.  And, how comfortable it is to read a book where you already know the characters and you can depend on a good story written in a style that resonates with your sense of good writing.  It’s like being friends with someone you don’t see on a regular basis, but when you do reconnect, you simply pick up where you left off.

I love when I discover a new author and take off on a path to locate every book he or she has written.  What’s better than finishing one book and picking up the same characters in the next book!  I just downloaded John Sanford’s latest book with Lucas Davenport, a character I have known for a long time.  Who is waiting for “W” (Sue Grafton) and finding out what Kinsey Millhone is doing?  Jack Reacher is still one of my favorite characters, so reading Lee Child is just a good time.

Then there are those books that are part of a series:  Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Lois Lowry’s series, culminating with Son, Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, Lord of the Rings, etc.  While I have never been one to reread books (I always feel like there are too many new books to read), I have two sons, now grown men, who would read and reread and reread their favorite series.  Now I have an eleven year old granddaughter who loves to reread her favorite books.

My theory is that we read books by the same authors, and sometimes reread those books because there is a feeling of comfort that emerges when we are among those characters, plots, and authors who become part of our reading life.  Simply, they are best friends and always available.  Who are your favorite authors and characters?

Many of the book we have featured in our Teachers Pay Teachers store are books that have become part of our reading world–whether it is the inspiration found in Wonder and Mockingbird or the adventure in The Hunger Games and Son, these are the type of books that leave an impression on both students and adults.

Hunger Games Unit medium-645401-1           Son Book cover      Mockingbird medium-776321-1     images

Teacher Appreciation Week

April 30, 2013

teacherappreciation

Quote:  If the heavens were all parchment, and the trees of the forests all pens, and every human being were a scribe, it would be impossible to record all that I have learned from my teachers.          Johann Ben Zakkai

Teaching is a demanding, challenging, and time-consuming job, and those of us who love to teach still think it’s the best job around.  It’s hard to explain to those who don’t teach that one moment where you become aware that you have made a difference in one student’s life.  That moment washes out all the frustrations and exhaustion that teaching can create.  Those moments don’t always happen in your presence and sometimes a teacher never knows the difference he or she has made in a student’s life.

Teacher Appreciate Week, May 7-11, is just around the corner.  Take time to tell a teacher the difference she or he made in your life.  If that’s not possible, tell your family, friends, and colleagues about that teacher.  Let’s make Teacher Appreciation Week buzz with stories about teachers and all that we have learned from them.

Knowing how hard teachers work to engage their students in learning activities that are relevant, meaningful, and fun, we continue to create materials for teachers that are easy to implement.  Check out our Summer Reading and Writing Journal that sustains students’ reading and writing skills over the summer.  Great end-of-the-year gift for your students and their families.  Wonder by R. J. Palacio is a super book to read aloud to your students at the end of the year.  The Wonder Read-Aloud Guide will provide everything you need for the last project of the school year.

Resources

NEA Teacher Appreciation Day May 8, 2013

http://www.nea.org/grants/1359.htm

Save Our Schools:  Teacher Appreciation Week May 7-11, 2013

http://saveourschoolsmarch.org/event/educators-actions-teacher-appreciation-week-and-day/

Education Week:  65 Ways to Recognize Teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week

http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin308.shtml

Reading Rockets:  Ways to Celebrate Teachers

http://www.readingrockets.org/calendar/appreciation/

Huffington Post:  National Teacher Appreciate Day

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/national-teacher-appreciation-day

Summer Reading and Writing Journal

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Summer-Reading-and-Writing-Journal

Wonder Read-Aloud Guide

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Wonder-by-R-J-Palacio-Read-Aloud-Guide

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